Thursday, September 8, 2011

May Birding:2011 May BOS Count

So I find myself obtaining more tales but I'm slow to post them. After spending a few days at a cottage with family and friends, I now have some Lake Huron tales to share. For the time being, I'll continue with the month of May and my visit to Sudbury.

May 15

It was time for the May BOS count. The previous day, we added 17 species to the 2011 Ontario list and came close to ticking a lifer Hooded Warbler while birding spots along the Lake Erie shoreline. After a couple of slow weekends at Malcomson Park, it felt good to finally get out of our birding slump.

An overnight rain continued at the start of our count while birding the Port Weller West Pier with Kayo, Dan and Brian.

We spent almost two hours scanning the brush on the pier and observed a total of 36 species. Warblers added to the year list included, Common Yellowthroat, Magnolia, Blackpoll, Wilson's, Orange-crowned and Northern Waterthrush. Dan pointed out the songs of an Ovenbird and Lincoln's Sparrow. Two species needed for my life list. The warbler was hidden deep in the brush and we had a quick glimpse of the sparrow but it was nowhere near enough to observe its field markings. No lifer ticks if they're not seen.

Before leaving for our assigned area in Section 2 of the BOS count, Jean and I added Veery, Swamp Sparrow and Least Flycatcher to the year list. The weekend haul was looking good.

The rest of our count was a mixture of travelling along roads and walking through parks within the the city of Niagara Falls. We found a Spotted Sandpiper while driving along a rural road on the Niagara Escarpment and then moved on to Firemen's Park. The wind storm that occurred in late April uprooted a few trees on the Bruce Trail.

Even though a tree fell as we approached the wooded area of the park, we ventured onto the trail, determined to find additional FOY warblers.

Birds of interest found in the Niagara Falls park included, Baltimore Oriole, Hermit Thrush, Magnolia Warbler (the only warbler species found in the park during our hike), Eastern Bluebird, Rose-breasted Grosbeak and a first-of-the-year Ruby-throated Hummingbird.

Before starting our drive along the Niagara Parkway towards the Falls, Jean and I usually check a stretch of road that runs along the base of the escarpment. From the road-side, we observed Barn Swallows and Northern Rough-winged Swallows (FOY) flying over a small pond.

We continued up the road and found a few of the usual species, but upon reaching the dead end, we spotted an unusual bird in the vineyard. The bird was almost entirely white! Its head was speckled grey, the beak yellow and from the shape of the body, it appeared to be a species of thrush.

It was a leucistic American Robin. Leucism (caused by a genetic mutation) occurs when the pigment is not properly deposited in the feathers. Since the beak and legs had colour, this was not an albino bird. Though it was cool to see our first leucistic bird, it still only counts as an American Robin at the end of the day. Time to move on.

From Queenston to Chippawa, we travelled along the Niagara Parkway with stops at the Lilac garden and the arboretum at the Niagara Parks Horticultural Gardens.

No more firsts-of the year until the bridge in Chippawa. It's a reliable spot for Cliff Swallows and after standing in the rain for what seemed a rather long 10 minutes, I spotted a Cliff Swallow for the 2011 year list amongst a few Barn and Northern Rough-winged Swallows. I needed that after finding a disappointing number of species at the Peter Street feeders. The rural roads near the Welland River did not produce much either. Once back on the QEW, we soon concluded another BOS count.

The third weekend in May turned out to be very productive. No lifers, but a total of 30 species for our year list. The next weekend in May was the Victoria Day weekend. An extra day to find FOY's in the Niagara Region and another chance at ticking a lifer Hooded Warbler. My glass was starting to look half-full again.

No comments:

Post a Comment